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Organize Your Desk: Optimum Desk Arrangement

Organize Your Desk: Optimum Desk Arrangement

Optimum desk arrangement not only makes work easier and more enjoyable, it also makes it better for your body. Too often, pain or discomfort can unconsciously distract you from your work. A well-thought-out arrangement of your accessories can make working easier and more efficient.

Ergonomic computer screen and keyboard setup

Keeping a straight spine helps with proper functioning of the body. A computer screen set up at the right height keeps your chin level with the floor, which also helps your posture. A keyboard at the right height helps avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you’re working on a laptop, consider getting a stand for the laptop and an extra keyboard so you can position everything optimally. It’s also good to remember to get up from your chair at regular intervals; or consider a standing desk.

Clear space in front of you

Keep a space in front of you clear from distractions or extra clutter. That gives you space to create, and a place to put materials relating to the task at hand. If you are working digitally on several projects, consider using different desktop views for different projects. Look for tools such as VirtuaWin for Windows or Spaces for Apple. Keeping all the programs/documents etc. you need for one project on one desktop or space allows you to quickly resume where you left off without cluttering your working space with other projects.

Quick notes

Have a system for taking quick notes. Whether to capture an idea that just popped into your head or make notes during a phone call, you need a way to quickly record things you need to remember later on. Either keep a notebook just for notes handy, use post-it notes, or try an electronic notepad. I like using post-it notes. I use post-it notes to record actions I need to take or to record details of a conversation that I’m going to permanently record elsewhere (like jotting down someone’s email when I’m talking to them on the phone.)

The trick with using post-it notes is to only record one note or notes relating to one project on each note, then once the action is complete or the information is transferred, you get rid of the post-it right away.

Arranging your desk in these ways will help make your working day easier and less stressful. In the next post, we’ll discuss the best tools and supplies to keep at hand.

Ready to achieve your optimum desk arrangement? Check out our Virtual Organizing services.

Organize Your Desk: Mail and More

Organize Your Desk: Mail and More

In this post, we’re going to discuss how to organize mail, and some ideas for dealing with paperwork.

Incoming mail

Developing the habit of sorting and acting on incoming mail immediately dramatically reduces the amount of work it takes to manage your paperwork. Be brutal with the advertising that comes to your home. Unless you’re actually going to use something, not just think you might, recycle it immediately. Set aside a short time every day to manage your incoming mail. Depending on the volume of mail, you may want to take action on the incoming mail each day, or set aside some time each week to manage anything that has come up. Do not skip a day. Do not let it pile up again! It will become easier and easier to stay on top of it.

Clear your desk between projects

Clearing your desk between projects allows you to focus on each project without distractions. This applies both in real life and on your digital desktop. As you are coming up to the end of the time that you’ve allocated to complete a task, give yourself a minute or two to clear any paperwork and close any windows on your computer that are related to that task so you can move on with clear space for the next task.

Project Paperwork

Store paperwork related to a particular project together. This applies to your digital notes as well as your actual paper notes. When you keep all the paperwork together for a particular project, it allows you to return to that project quickly and easily, without having to shuffle through paperwork to find the notes that you wrote last time you worked on it. Store papers in folders or in hanging files near your desk. Be sure to label the folders so that you can find the project again easily.

Complete, Complete, Complete!

Keep your focus on completing tasks so you can clear them out of your workspace and out of your mind regularly. Allowing tasks to linger creates a backlog that clutters up your thinking. When you complete tasks you can stop thinking about them. Letting them go out of your mind allows you to keep a clear mind as you move forward with the tasks at hand. The same applies to the paperwork associated with the tasks. Filing everything to do with that task allows you to keep your desk clear. This can be done digitally as well as in real life.

Managing paperwork is a continuous task, but if you keep on top of it you will find your desk a lot less overwhelming.

Ready to start? Check out our Virtual Organizing services.

Organize Your Desk: Common Traps and RAFTS

Organize Your Desk: Common Traps and RAFTS

Dr. Katherine Macey

Hello! I’m Dr. Katherine Macey with Organize to Excel and over the next four blog posts we’re going to explore how to organize your desk so you can be as productive as possible. We’ll be covering the following topics:

  • Behavioral strategies you can use at your desk
  • Tools and supplies you can use to make it easier to work at your desk
  • Where to position your printer and other office supplies
  • How to create a clear workspace so you can be as productive as possible

We’re going to create some clear space for you so that you can have a clear mind as you do your work. Fewer things cluttering your workspace allows you to focus more effectively. If you have extra items around your workspace, your brain has to work to ignore them.

We’re going to make sure that the things that you need often are handy, without cluttering up your space. Let’s organize your desk!

Traps

Some of the traps that people fall into are wanting everything at hand. It’s actually okay to have to get up from your desk to get things occasionally. It’s good for you to be moving and not stuck sitting at your desk the entire time.

Another trap people fall into is leaving incomplete projects sitting around. You’ll learn in upcoming posts how to set up a space where you can collect the incomplete projects so that they’re not cluttering your space.

A third trap people fall into is not clearing the paperwork at the end of a project. Endless drafts, scribbled notes, and supporting documents all lead to extra clutter that does not need to stay on your desk.

Keep these traps in mind as we discuss our first major topic: paperwork!

Paperwork

To help organize your desk, it is best to stay on top of your paperwork. You’ve seen executive’s offices without a paper in sight. Perhaps you know someone who is never behind on their paperwork. If you are not those people and you have a little to a lot of backed-up paperwork, you probably have some piles around. Typically these piles of paper include reminders of things you need to do, records that need to be scanned or filed, advertising and more. The piles make it look like you have a lot to do and it feels overwhelming. Usually when we go through people’s paperwork, less than a third of the paperwork actually represents actions that need to be taken.

When you’re drowning in paperwork, use RAFTS

We use this system when clearing someone’s desk:

Recycle any paperwork that you have scanned that doesn’t have personal information, like advertising, old post-it notes, etc.

Action items need your attention. They are a reminder of a bill to pay, a letter to write, a phone call to make and so on.

File items are items you may want to refer back to at a later date. Any statements, school records, policies, etc. I highly recommend getting electronic copies in the first place so you can skip the paper step.

Trash/Treasure might be memorabilia or that little thing you picked up that you’re not quite sure where it came from but you’re keeping in case it shows up as missing, but you’ve had it now for a couple of years…

Shred anything that has account numbers, social security numbers or other non-public information. It is not necessary to shred anything that has your name and address since that is a matter of public record and can be found anyway.

Once you have sorted your paperwork and shredded, recycled, filed and tossed everything in those categories, you will be left with your action items.

Store papers vertically

A long-time organizer friend describes papers as either lying down asleep or standing to attention waiting to take action. I like that analogy as it encourages you to complete actions associated with any paperwork. It also takes up less space on your desk. Utilizing file folder organizers keeps the folders vertical. File cabinets or file boxes are a very efficient way to store papers vertically, but I do recommend using hanging folders to store related categories together and keep the folders from sliding under each other. As much as possible, reduce the amount of paperwork you keep by scanning documents. And for goodness’ sake, don’t print anything that you don’t have to!

Develop a prioritization system

If you have a backlog of action items, it’s best to develop a prioritization system to manage them. Use a combination of due dates and level of importance to decide what to tackle first. Your system can be very simple (do the item in front first) or more complicated depending on the volume of paperwork you need to complete. Here are some ideas for your system in increasing complexity:

  • Do what’s in front first
  • 3 folder system – Folder #1 for hot/red/do now items, folder #2 for warm/orange/do soon items, folder #3 for cold/blue/do someday items
  • 8 folder system – time based. Decide which day of the week you will be doing which items and drop them into the corresponding day of the week. The 8th folder is for anything that is not being done this week.
  • Keep a running list, inventory style. A numbered concertina file is best for this with a list of which slot each action item is in.
  • Tickler file. A system of 43 folders, one for each day of the month and one for each month. Decide when you will be doing the action and drop it into the corresponding day/month. This requires diligent action be taken each day to complete the tasks allocated for that day.

The more complicated a system, the more time it will take to maintain it unless you stay on top of it.

I hope these tips help you organize your desk by managing paperwork effectively. Next time, we’ll discuss common types of paperwork and how to deal with them efficiently.

Ready to start? Check out our Virtual Organizing services.

Reviewing and Renewing

Reviewing and Renewing

The new year’s almost here, and it’s an exciting opportunity to make resolutions, keep them, and grow. In a past blog post we talked about how to set goals with the SMART PATH system, which encourages setting achievable goals, and working through them by focusing on the journey, not the destination.  Another part of this journey-first mentality for achieving goals is reviewing and renewing—looking back at your commitments and refreshing them. It helps you do three important things: Get some direction, reset your resolve, and prioritize.  

Get Some Direction

Where the heck am I?

Without direction, it’s easy to bounce from project to project and not follow through. When that happens, life can feel… meh. When you’re facing thousands of options and can’t decide what to do, it’s time to review your goals to get a road map. Set some time during the year to look back at what you wanted to accomplish, and pick one or two things to get yourself back on track. 

Reviewing is also a great time to check if your goals are convergent, meaning your effort goes in one direction instead of splitting up. If you have a lot of fitness milestones you want to hit this year, but also want to watch every title on Netflix, you might be working against yourself.    

Reset Your Resolve


If, later in the year, your promise to keep your closet neat and tidy has fallen by the wayside, renewing can take motivation out of the equation. Taking time to look at what you want to accomplish–and deciding to do it no matter what—keeps you focused on the journey and the destination.

Don’t forget to use a growth mindset. On days when you don’t keep your promises to yourself, you haven’t failed. You just haven’t succeeded yet!  

Prioritize 

I’m sure I’m not the only person to decide I’m going to get six-pack abs, figure out my finances, and write a thousand-page novel all in the same year. When you have more goals than you can reasonably tackle, it’s time to prioritize. Write a list of what you want to achieve. Then, make sure you’re putting your effort where it counts. 

When you find something that doesn’t fit, you can put it on your “Not Doing” list. This is where you store ideas and goals until the time is right. While something is on the “Not Doing” list, you don’t have to spend time or energy on it. Put things on the list for a certain amount of time, or indefinitely. This list is great to look over when reviewing, too!  

Once you’ve done your reviewing and renewing, try using a Kaizen approach to achieving goals. The Kaizen approach focuses on small, consistent changes, tracking your progress, and regular reviews. If you dine out for every meal, and your goal is to eat home-cooked food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you could start by replacing breakfast first. Track your progress with a meal planning app or journal. Then, look over your data as you go to make sure your plans suit your goals.  
 

Whatever you want to achieve in 2021, we hope these tools help you get there. Happy New Year!

Best Closet Organizing Strategies

Best Closet Organizing Strategies

We use our closet every single day (okay, except for pyjama days.) It makes sense to make it easy to find the perfect outfit for your day. No mess, no stress. 

Streamlining your closet tells you a lot about yourself. How you dress tells people who you are. And how your closet is set up is also uniquely you. My closet is extremely practical – because I’m a practical kind of person. So if that’s what you are looking for – read on!

Closet Style
The first thing you want to consider when thinking about your closet is choosing a style. It may be dictated somewhat by your living arrangement and your budget, but you always have choices and it is up to you to create the closet of your dreams (within budget of course!) So whether you choose to use your built-in, have a stand-alone wardrobe, or do a free standing rack, it’s up to you.

I like a clean look in my room, so I prefer to have my clothes behind a closed door and in drawers.

Declutter using TRACKED

Declutter your Closet

A few years ago an organizer friend of mine said that the Pareto rule also applies to closets. The Pareto rule (applied to closets) says that you will use 80% of the items in your closet 20% of the time and 20% of the things in your closet 80% of the time. I started to take a really critical look at the things in my closet. The percentages may not have been 100% accurate, but there were certainly things in my closet that I barely wore or hadn’t worn in a while. Time to declutter!
Find the questions that support you in getting to your desired closet when decluttering. What do I mean by that? Marie Kondo uses the question “Does it spark joy?” Other questions you might want to consider are:
  • Do I love it?
  • Do I wear it?
  • Does it fit?
  • Do I have too many of these?
  • What is “enough” for me?
  • Do I look and feel fabulous wearing this?
  • Does this match who I am?
Hanger Trick

The Hanger Trick

One sure way to not lie to yourself about what you do and don’t wear is to use the hanger trick. It’s pretty simple and does take some time to set up (if you have a lot of clothes) but it does really help you not cheat on this. Here’s how it works:

  1. Decide on a time frame (3 months, 6 months, 12 months)
  2. Reverse all the hangers in your closet
  3. When you wear something, put it back the right way
  4. At the end of the time frame, anything you haven’t worn will still be the wrong way around and you know you can let it go.

If you do cheat – I did (there were a couple of pieces of clothing that I just loved and told myself that I would wear in the next 6 months) be sure to repeat the process 2 or 3 times. By the time you’ve not actually worn that loved item, for double or triple the time frame you gave yourself, it’s really time to give it a new home.

I have an exception. I still have my wedding dress. I do still fit it and I have worn it several times since my wedding, but not for a while. And I’m very clear I’m keeping it for sentimental reasons, not as an item of clothing in my closet.

Practical Closet Strategies

Make a point of using vertical space strategically. Use double hanging rods, use shelving, hooks, etc. to use the vertical height in your closet.

Vertical space in your Closet

Sort the clothing items in your closet so that you can find them easily. You can use just one classification or several depending on the amount of clothing you have. For instance, I have things arranged by length (long hanging and double hung), by type (shirts and pants separately), and my shirts are organized by sleeve length and then by color. 

But you may choose to put together outfits for each day of the week and hang those things together so you can just grab the things you are going to wear that day.

And some people rotate the clothing they have in their closet depending on the season. I don’t have that much clothing and find I wear a lot of my clothing year round (one of the benefits of living in Southern California.)

Keep like with like in your closet

Use the Right Closet Storage Tools

Storing your clothing and accessories in a way that makes them easy to access and put away is pretty much the goal here. Use see through containers and label them so it is easy to see where to put things back. Use the right containers or storage tools for the items. 

Your Best Closet

There are lots of different ideas presented here. Some of them will work for you and some of them, eh, not so much. That’s okay. You think the way you think and some ideas will “fit” better than others.

So which tips will work for you? What makes sense for your closet? Make sure to take some time to implement those tips this week!

 

Garage Storage Hacks

Garage Storage Hacks

Garage storage can be difficult. The variety of shapes and sizes of items kept in garages can make storage tricky. Garages can be scary places. Spiders, stacks and stacks of boxes piled precariously, half finished projects, sports equipment and more. They can store forgotten treasures, tools and sports equipment, things to help you enjoy life, all of which you would use if you could reach them. Some garages have cars parked in them, but often garages end up as our last storage spot when we’ve run out of handy spots in our homes.
Garage storage don'ts
There are some things that we definitely should not be storing in the garage because they don’t cope well with temperature changes, humidity or pests. Some things to avoid storing in your garage are:
  • important documents – water damage, mice, other insect pests could make these documents useless
  • photos – water damage, mice, other insect pests could make these memories fade faster than your own memories
  • vinyl records – these will warp with the temperature changes
  • wine – needs cool even temperatures
  • food – mice and rats are excellent at finding small holes to enter your garage and will chew through packaging in a heart beat
  • delicate clothing – easily water damaged and don’t like uneven heat or humidity
  • paintings – easily water damaged and don’t like uneven heat or humidity
  • old paint – it will quickly become unusable with the heat
  • wooden furniture – it can be easily damaged if there is a leak
  • hazardous waste – be sure to drop off at a hazardous waste drop-off point
  • propane tanks – these need a lot of ventilation
  • and don’t store things in cardboard boxes – things inside can get water damaged if there is a leak.
Garage organization

Declutter your garage

Don’t use garage storage for stuff you no longer need or use. As a rule of thumb, everything in your garage (or substitute storage area) should be something that makes life easy or enjoyable. The things you own should be used. I’ve see many garages that house furniture from a deceased relative, from a move where two homes were merged, or the owners downsized their home but didn’t manage to downsize their belongings at the same time. If you have a specific reason you are keeping the items, for instance, someone has specifically asked for an item and given you a date by when they will pick it up, then by all means keep it if you don’t mind your garage space being used by that item. Otherwise, I recommend letting them go. This is the most important decision. After you’ve decided to let something go, you can decide how to let it go. You can sell, donate, or trash your items depending on the quality and state of the items. Do a little research if you think your items are worth selling, but resolve to let them go within a certain time frame. You don’t want the items still sitting in your garage because you couldn’t get the price you thought it they worth. That will cost you more in peace of mind than the items were ever worth.
Garage storage ideas

Best way to store things in your garage

Garages are notorious for having difficult storage needs due to the variety of items and their very different shapes and sizes. To determine your needs, collect things together that will be kept together. Some categories might be sports equipment, gardening supplies and tools, DIY tools, camping gear. Once you have collected these things together, decide which area of the garage each type of item will live. Consider using vertical storage where possible and aim to get things off the floor. There are hooks and racks on the market for just about everything. You can reach out to a professional garage outfitter like Jay at Organized Garage Solutions or Gus at OrganizIt! for more ideas or help if you need to install garage organization systems. Make sure you’ve decluttered before you have them come over – otherwise they’ll be building a system for stuff you don’t need!

If you’re doing it yourself and need extra shelving, cabinets, or overhead storage, consider the size, shape and weight of the items you want to store. All of these things will affect the storage solutions you ultimately end up using. Pay attention to whether your storage solutions are fixed or adjustable. The best solutions will be adjustable so you can change them as your needs change over time.

How will you change your world this year?

How will you change your world this year?

What will you change in your world this year?

We have seen this week that what was normal is not okay for many people, black people in particular. I have already written on facebook about the tragedy of George Floyd and many others. A friend shared a picture of our kids protesting the death of Eric Garner 6 years ago. Their sign read “I can’t breathe.” I am a white woman from New Zealand and I have lived in Los Angeles for over 20 years. This is my inherited world.

So I ask, what will you change in your world this year?

Maybe you are in a position to affect policy change. Please do. Please make sure that the most vulnerable of our population are cared for, nutured, and encouraged to contribute their worth. Because they are worthy.

Maybe you are a business owner who is looking to hire. Who will you hire?

Maybe you are part of the privileged. Will you support higher taxes to ensure public schools get the funding they require? Will you donate time or money to help kids who need it most? Will you support our police departments to be less of a police force and more of a police community support?

Maybe you can have a yard sale to benefit a local group doing good in the community (Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper program has chapters in many places around the country, including Los Angeles: https://www.obama.org/mbka/)

Maybe, instead of buying something that you want, but don’t need, you could donate to a cause, or hire a young black person.

Maybe you are a black person – I encourage you to dream, don’t give up hope, and help us help you. Keep asking for what you need. I will listen. I will vote for the people who can affect positive change for you. I will support those organizations helping you. I will ask my clients to donate their items they no longer need to support causes that help people in need like you. I will stand with you and not be silent.

COVID-19 Safer at home: Declutter by Video or Phone

COVID-19 Safer at home: Declutter by Video or Phone

You are in one of two camps.
1. You’ve got lots of time on your hands and are either surng netix or nding odd jobs to do around the house. Use the time to get organized!

2. You’re starting to go crazy, managing remote work, kids schooling, self care, oh, and, right, sleep! Let us help you strategize to get some time back for you.

Use our experience to help guide you to make decisions, give advice, and keep you motivated.

virtual organizing-green keyboard

DECLUTTERING BY PHONE OR VIDEO
Virtual Organizing

Design your own program – a full session, or short check-ins with you as you organize.

remote computer organizing

DIGITAL ORGANIZING
Remote Computer Organizing

Finally get your digital life under control!
Desktop icons, multiple versions of files,
naming conventions, photos, music,
online storage. We can help you get it
sorted!

email decluttering

EMAIL MANAGEMENT
Email Declutter

Zero inbox? More like 45,000 inbox!
We help you get your email under control.

Organize Your Desk: Mail and More

Organize Your Desk: Mail and More

In this post, we're going to discuss how to organize mail, and some ideas for dealing with paperwork. Incoming mail Developing the habit of sorting and acting on incoming mail immediately dramatically reduces the amount of work it takes to manage your paperwork. Be brutal with the advertising that...

read more
Organize Your Desk: Common Traps and RAFTS

Organize Your Desk: Common Traps and RAFTS

Dr. Katherine Macey Hello! I'm Dr. Katherine Macey with Organize to Excel and over the next four blog posts we're going to explore how to organize your desk so you can be as productive as possible. We’ll be covering the following topics: Behavioral strategies you can use at your deskTools and...

read more
Reviewing and Renewing

Reviewing and Renewing

The new year’s almost here, and it’s an exciting opportunity to make resolutions, keep them, and grow. In a past blog post we talked about how to set goals with the SMART PATH system, which encourages setting achievable goals, and working through them by focusing on the...

read more
Best Closet Organizing Strategies

Best Closet Organizing Strategies

We use our closet every single day (okay, except for pyjama days.) It makes sense to make it easy to find the perfect outfit for your day. No mess, no stress.  Streamlining your closet tells you a lot about yourself. How you dress tells people who you are. And how your closet is set up is also...

read more
Garage Storage Hacks

Garage Storage Hacks

Garages are notorious for having difficult storage needs due to the variety of items and their very different shapes and sizes. To determine your needs, collect things together that will be kept together. Some categories might be sports equipment, gardening supplies and tools, DIY tools, camping gear. Once you have collected these things together, decide which area of the garage each type of item will live.

read more

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